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What a Banana Clip Is and Is Not

An important explainer for these confusing times.

Model Kaia Gerber at the Alexander Wang fashion show
Model Kaia Gerber, daughter of Cindy Crawford, wearing what her mom would surely know is not a banana clip.
Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images/Getty Images

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Calling something “fake news” is obviously fraught with wider implications, but I feel comfortable giving an event that happened over the weekend that label.

Designers are currently showing their fall collections at New York Fashion Week. After the Alexander Wang show, my Instagram feed and Stories lit up with pictures and pronunciations declaring “The banana clip is back!!!!! ~banana emoji~”

As a person who came of age in the ’80s, a person who used to wear these contraptions on a regular basis and even elevated it to a prom hair accessory, I was really interested in this development. Until I saw what it was:

That is not a banana clip. I posed a query diplomatically on Twitter, where people assured me that my memory from that time, which is possibly impaired from inhaling too many perm solution and AquaNet fumes, was intact. That is a claw clip.

Many publications ran headlines proclaiming that the banana clip was back. Harper’s Bazaar, one of the few fashion sites to correctly characterize it a “claw clip,” shed some light on the misnomer. The collection was meant to evoke power-dressing in the ‘80s; Guido Palau, a well-respected and long-time hairstylist, said, “This is Alex’s take on the ironic banana clip of that era... Also, you’ve got to remember, lots of girls probably don’t remember what the banana clip is. There’s an 18- or 17-year-old girl, they don’t know it has a funny connotation to it. They may just think it’s super cool to do that in their hair.”

I can say the same for many of the young beauty writers backstage who obviously don’t remember seeing their moms wearing banana clips, so I get why they didn’t challenge Palau. Despite his many qualifications and decades of experience, he was not a teen girl in the ’80s, so I have to respectfully disagree with him.

This is a banana clip:

Imagine two curved combs hinged together on the bottom. You open it up into a V-shape, then comb your hair close to the scalp on each side to gather it up into what looks a lot like a horse’s mane or a mohawk. Banana clips give a lot of volume to your hair, and also the illusion that it is longer than it actually is. During their heyday, they were even better if you had a perm because you could get a giant poof going on the back of your head. (Yeah, that was desirable.) A claw clip merely clamps a chunk of hair where you want it.

In case you’re ever confused in the future, here is a helpful visual aid:

Side-by-side images of a banana clip and a banana
Does it look like a banana? If so, it is likely a banana clip.
Photos (L to R): Amazon; Jingjing Song/EyeEm/Getty Images

It’s not clear if the CLAW CLIPS Alexander Wang showed on his runway will be produced, but I would 100 percent buy a banana clip if Alexander Wang made one.

Kimmy Gibbler wearing a banana clip on “Full House.” Photo: MTV